Book review: Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu

Published: July 2012

Where I got it: I completely forgot this book was coming out (even though I had known about it), and then I saw the book trailer (clickenzee to watch). Had to go read the book after that.

Let me just start by saying that Charles Yu is amazing. Sorry Please Thank You is a collection of incredibly geeky and incredibly smart stories. Perhaps I was also in a particular state of mind or some well-timed emotional place, but some of the stories touched me greatly, like ‘Troubleshooting’.

The stories are full of ‘what if’s, questions about consciousness and existence. It is quite remarkable how much meaning Yu can pack into such short pieces. Some of them read almost like Buddhist meditations. There’s dissatisfaction with current circumstances, there’s suffering because of wanting a different existence, there’s the search for self. ‘Adult Contemporary’ could easily have come straight from some Zen master’s teachings.

As the title of the book may suggest, the stories are all about relationships. They are about intimacy, loneliness, heartbreak, relationships that just begin and relationships that fizzle out. ‘Standard Loneliness Package’ and ‘Open’ are fantastic.

There are a couple of great geeky gems (GGGs?) in the book — ‘Yeoman’ is a different take on redshirts than John Scalzi’s latest novel, and ‘Hero Absorbs Major Damage’ is told from the point of view of a group leader in a D&D-like virtual reality setting.

This is obviously not a big deal, but I could not really discern the reason the stories were separated into ‘Sorry’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ categories. Perhaps there is one, but it is too subtle. Anyone?

Overall, for me it was a very powerful collection of stories. In fact, I would like to read it again to see if I can uncover more layers and simply to savor. Five out of five science fictional universes.

On a separate note: the cover, which at first seemed rather simplistic to me, fits this book perfectly.

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3 comments

  1. Oh cod I loved this book so much. After How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe instantly became my new favorite book I had to seek out and read everything else he’d written. What a great mind. Can’t wait for more from him. Ok. I am done commenting and squeeing all over your website now. I swear. Haha. 🙂

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